#TouringCarMadness – The 1971 Spa 24 Hours and the AMG 300SEL 6.3

AMG is nowadays known as the performance tuning division of Mercedes but it all started around two guys, Hans Werner Aulfrecht and Erhard Melcher. Both ex-Mercedes engineers they had everything in hand to put together some fantastic of high-performance German metal. The first ever car which was professionally raced by the team was the so-called AMG 300SEL 6.3 and it’s basically the car which settled AMG and its two founders on the long list of German performance tuners.

Mercedes Benz 300SEL 6.3 AMG - Spa 1971

Beginning of the seventies, touring car racing was at its peak, manufacturers were in and around the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) and more or less every country had its own domestic series. With factories such as BMW, Ford, Alfa Romeo and tons of local tuners and privateers trying their best against them, AMG choose to enter the 1971 Spa 24 Hours.

The Spa 24 Hours were then reserved to Group 2 cars which meant touring cars and it was the race to win for any team in that category. As part of the ETCC all regulars were present as well as being joined by national entries. A great mix of cars and drivers which was a perfect playing field to showcase the then nicknamed “Red Pig” abilities.

That's big and probably heavy... The 6.8L V8 in situ.
That’s big and probably heavy… The 6.8L V8 in situ.

Actually and looking at the size of it you were sure not to miss it, the red paint was just added visibility. As opposed to the factory entries which were about, lightness, power and maximum grip, the red pig looked a complete opposite with its 6.8Liter V8 which almost doubled the capacity of any engine present on the starting grid and we’re not talking about fuel efficiency.

The car wasn’t light either with more than 1600 kg on the scale, so don’t talk about double-stints, no. It retained the original stock panels apart from the doors which were made of aluminium. The full interior of the road-going version with door panels, back sofa, yes, we can talk about sofa looking at the size and of course, the wooden trimmed dashboard were all fitted as if AMG saw the Spa 24 Hours as a rolling showroom for their work. Maybe the most luxurious car to ever take the 24 Hours of Spa start in that period !

Mercedes Benz 300SEL 6.3 AMG - Spa 1971

The car was all about raw power and it actually proved efficient ! German drivers Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz probably had to work hard to handle the beast but with a second place finish overall and a 4m14.5s qualifying time around the 14 km track that was Spa-Francorchamps at the time, just 2 seconds behind the pole-sitting and winning Cologne Capri 2600RS that is what I call a F*****G achievement ! Eating tyres as fast as drinking the whole tank, it didn’t look good at the start, but in the end, it worked and that’s all we need to remember..!

 

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